New Year’s Resolutions: How to See Them Through
We all do it. Everyone does it. It means well but almost always amounts to nothing.
We all love making New Year’s resolutions. Why wouldn’t we? The opening moments of a new year bring wonderful possibilities and opportunities to truly make it your year. A new year feels like a clean slate, a way to start fresh.
That’s what New Year’s resolutions are all about: a plan of action to make the fresh new year the best one yet.
But what happens a month into the new year? It isn’t so new anymore. Certain goals we set for ourselves prove to be a little more difficult than we thought.
Why is that? Why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to maintain and fulfill?
The truth is simple, though it might be tough to swallow. Though New Year’s resolutions are fun to make with all the pomp and pageantry of the New Year, completing those goals require genuine discipline.
Here’s how you can see your New Year’s resolutions through.
There’s something about a New Year’s party that makes you want to change your life. The idea of losing weight, eating healthier, drinking less alcohol, or putting that dusty gym membership to good use sounds so doable.
That is until lunchtime arrives. Those old, familiar cravings come back in full force, so you decide to get that salad on another day. You feel so sore after that first workout — why would you subject yourself to a whole year of that?
New Year’s resolutions are so hard to see through because they directly confront our worst habits. Furthermore, those bad habits are so ingrained in our daily lives that changing them feels sacrilegious.
Starting a New Year’s resolution gives you that motivation boost at first. However, motivation can only help you for so long as it runs out. Motivation is a powerful tool but is best used sparingly. That’s the major pitfall of New Year’s resolutions.
A study conducted by the University of Scranton found that 23% of participants quit their New Year’s resolutions after a single week. More than one-fifth of people couldn’t commit to their New Year’s resolutions after crossing that starting line.
A 2016 study found that 9% of people felt they were successful in keeping their New Year’s resolutions.
Let’s see how we can get into the top tier of habit-making.
In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear asserts that the key to creating easy habits is to make them as simple as possible.
If you want to work out more and live a better lifestyle, don’t think about the long road ahead. Focus on putting those shoes on — now you have to go the gym.
We tend to shy away from the commitment to new habits because it’s so daunting and abstract. The main setback in fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions is you’re focusing on the end product.
You don’t finish a 1,000-piece puzzle by thinking about the finished product. You finish it one piece at a time — then you can frame it for all house guests to see.
You can’t run a 5K unless you focus on the run you’re currently doing. In this case, it’s literally about taking one step at a time.
You need to commit to the task at hand, which is usually simple. Use that simplicity to your advantage. If you start your morning workout thinking about how sore you’re going to be, your bed will only feel more comfortable.
But putting on shoes is pretty easy (unless you work out in combat boots, then it’s another time commitment. Maybe focus on putting your socks on).
Make that habit easy. Make it approachable, then the road to self-improvement becomes a scenic stroll.
New Year’s resolutions often come from a place of dissatisfaction. It’s usually intended to help right a wrong in your life. That requires self-confrontation and brutal honesty, which makes it so tempting to fall back into old habits.
There is comfort in the familiar, even when we know it’s not good for us.
Instead of dreading the slow burn of new habits, enjoy the path that lay ahead. Remind yourself that it’s at least a new experience.
That salad doesn’t taste half bad, you’re running better than expected, and you actually feel better when you wake up earlier (watching the sunrise is a wonderful incentive).
Declaring a New Year’s resolution is a powerful call to action. Still, motivation can only get you so far. Your cravings will come back to tempt you, and you might tell yourself that you’ll run tomorrow — or maybe the day after, or the one after that.
Stumbling is part of the process. It’s okay if you have that one cheat meal on impulse. Don’t sweat it if you skipped leg day this week. It’s all good unless putting things off becomes a habit.
The best way to prevent that is to go easy on yourself. Cutting off a habit cold turkey can be too extreme, so slowly wheen off that habit.
New year’s resolutions aren’t failures if you stumble once. They do when you decide it’s beyond saving. Get back on that saddle, take the standing eight count, and keep pushing forward.
The road to self-improvement is a scary one, full of twists, turns, and unexpected pitfalls. Change rewards those who stick to the path, not the ones who call it quits after sleeping in once.
To quote Steve Jobs, the journey is the award. The bumps and bruises you get along the way are the true gifts of New Year’s resolutions. They help you be more disciplined, mindful, grateful, and overall healthier.
Whatever your New Year’s resolutions are, stick with them. Though it might feel unpleasant at the moment, you’re slowly becoming a better person than the one who started. Cross that finish line. It’ll all be worth it in the end.